Of This Skin

In her poem, “Of This Skin”, Angel Benjamin creates visceral imagery that explores the details of the largest organ of the human body; skin.

shout out to the largest organ on the body;

a jewel of melanin and sunlight,

 

where rifts have been driven through,

marked up like tiger stripes.

 

housing our souls in armor

battered from time’s pain,

 

it has embraced the clumped earth

and slept on the ocean floor,

 

reaching outwards from the bloody west

to the hollow east.

 

though familiar with metal’s tongue, 

it still dances in glitter

 

for its light illuminates my mind, 

has shown me futures where I

 

can step through that same gate, 

and revel in sharing the worlds I create.

 

it has walked, shouted, praised, and hollered

what an elastic thing

 

as our permanent fixture, a shield,

from the water’s grip and the tight rope clips

 

as our reminder, 

for it’s no mere shadow in the mirror

 

it’s a lens, 

and we are afraid of it.

 

Angel Benjamin is in eleventh grade and lives in the old state of Maryland. Her work was recognized for the first time by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for regional awards. She likes to create worlds, both imaginary and real.

Visual Arts by Audrey Carver 

Two Poems by Pearl Reagler

Pearl Reagler’s poems, “Night Walkers” and “cicada women”, express an authentic and creative use of imagery. Through her powerful use of vivid details, Pearl paints scenes and emotions that bring to life interesting character relationships.

Night Walkers

I have not yet learned how to sleep through the night.

Houston Texas, and then some. Under the oak trees. By the pool white flowers melt like snow.

The air still fits over my body like a second skin.

And the crickets chirp.

And then the rain would pound. It didn’t stop easy. I’m walking down a suburban street, towing a wooden beam behind me. On my phone a man wades through water, clinging to his kayak.

Did you know that there are more stars in the sky then there are grains of sand on every beach in the world? I do.

On my way home a man speaks to his wife on a black berry. He accuses her of something. And I assume she answers.

And the crickets chirp.

There were hills made of dirt in the lot across from mine. A new house about to be constructed.

When I was little, I used to slide down the hill, and scrape my knees raw and red.

There’s a chandelier in my bathroom. It hangs over the four footed tub, heavy, waiting.

I took a picture of a walnut on the deck. It was cracked open and raw, still green on the inside. After I took the photo I ate it and it was bitter.

The grass here is a dry hairbrush, the roads are a ball of tangled yarn.

Cows eat their own shit in a field speckled with star dust. The owner pulls his whip out. The water is poison.

My sister puts her spurs on.

And the crickets chirp.

You’re driving in a car with the freeway backed up. The cars stop moving entirely and we are stuck in a stand still. You bang your head on the steering wheel.

I can’t live here anymore.

You tell me about how you saw a dead horse on the side of the road the previous month.

It was disgusting, fucking disgusting.

A car cuts us off. You slam on the break and curse.

Look at this fucker! Some people need to learn how to fucking drive! Can you believe that?

No, no I can’t.

Honestly.

Honestly. What else am I supposed to say?

Can you believe these crickets? They’re so loud.

On my street there are no sidewalks. The street melds into each yard in the rising summer heat. The night time wanderers can’t sleep walk.

One day on my run, I noticed a white cat venture out into the middle of the road. It’s nose lifted smelling something. I assume it was an incoming storm.

And as it was paused a man in a huge truck with rimmed wheels came flying down the road. I dove for cover, but the cat did not. He was smashed under that truck’s wheel. His insides worming into his outsides like the guts of a ripe berry. I assure you that’s how it happened.

I watched it myself.

 

cicada woman

Under the humming of insects they were married. My mother tasked me with the photo taking. Very embarrassing. Almost worse than photos being taken of me. My thin elbows jutting out. First pimple still stained red on my cheek. When adults turned to meet my eyes, their pupils said, who is this child? Why is it pointing a camera at me? Where is the professional photographer? Where are its parents? Is it ok for me to keep drinking in front of them? I wandered the festivities in a sleep haze, plagued by seeds of prepubescent insomnia. Meanwhile my cousin bragged about a romance film that her mother let her watch.They had sex a LOT, she says, it’s like really gross. We sat in a pile of dead grass and sucked the juice out of worms. Ah yes, I murmur, I’ve seen it too, yes I have, so gross, so gross. Later we went firefly hunting. Running through the tall grass, our mouths stained by chili powder. I had to keep pulling up my shorts because I didn’t have the hips to fill them out. It was my first time seeing fireflies. We have these in Houston, we have lots, I say, trying to look unimpressed. Finally we caught one, squirming, in my cousin’s palms. The lights shone through her thin fingers and tinted them red. Inside her clasped hands I could see the body.

 

watch the inside of

a cicada woman, damp

blood sucked by night lips

 

Pearl Reagler is a student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston Texas. Most of the time, she likes to write poetry and screenplays. She also enjoys photography and film.

Visual Arts by: Johnson Anthony 

Town

In her winning piece for Parallax’s Horror Contest, Eleonora Beran-Jahn takes us into the world of a mysterious small town where the night brings more than just the moon out. Also congratulations to Hannah Hardy whose art won first place in the Visual Art – Parallax Halloween Horror Contest.

This is a town whose colors crawl from the shadows
Of nicks and corners.
Dust rolls up
The encapsulating outer walls of the town every other Tuesday,
The walls are 100 feet tall and there is no wind here
Ever.
Peter and Lee are getting married
In the Jonsons’ inn on the west side of town:
Date, unknown.
I have never met Peter, Lee or the Jonsons,
Nor have I ever been driven to count
The number of rocks that make up the city’s walls.
The graveyard is very beautiful
When the sun peeks through the angry gray brushstrokes
That people call clouds,
All of the flowers are the same color.

The town holds a meeting every year
To determine how many people live
Within our protecting walls,
I do the headcount, the number is always
25.
No one really knows
What their neighbor’s face looks like;
No one really cares
To try and paint portraits around here.
There are just as many alchemists
As there are mercenaries in this place,
There is no jail,
And both services cost the same.
The Jonsons open the inn at 7 am and close at 12 am,
Just in time to prevent Richard from walking in
Pushing an empty stroller.
The bar is open 24/7.

Scratch that,
There are 26
People in this town,
James lives down in the well,
He gives us water and we breathe him air.
The church’s people have had to move the chapel
12 feet East every year
To make more room for the cemetery.
Its been 70 years since I tried to leave this place,
I am the sheriff,
Business here is slow, the undertaker gets more business than I do.
There are always 26 people,
Everyone else
Never stays “around” for long.

Sometimes I can hear ‘everyone else’ sing,
Their monotone pitch of pain gives roses their rose.
It is January when they gain strength
And melody turns into the screeching
Of nails drawing against wood.
It must be beautiful what they do
In their tortured years bellow the dirt.
Once James murmured me to help them,
He said their noise was making him cold.
I told him I couldn’t
For shattered throat moans are not considered my jurisdiction.

By Eleonora Beran Jahn

Artwork by Hannah Hardy.
“Self Portrait,” Parallax Horror Contest Winner